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Unions and management to negotiate food industry accord



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S E f^ O R V E T W e e B K 0 ^ u SENATOR JOHN BUTTON MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY RELATIONS TECHNOLOGY & COMMERCE

EMBARGOED UNTIL 1PM SUNDAY 19 JULY 1992

UNIONS AND MANAGEMENT TO NEGOTIATE FOOD INDUSTRY ' ACCORD

Senator Peter Cook, the Minister for Industrial Relations, and Senator John Button, the Minister

for Industry, Technology and Commerce announced today a program to encourage workplace

reform in the processed food industry, as part of a Government Statement on the development of

Australian agri-food industries.

Senator Cook said "The opportunities for the growth of A ustralia's food processing industry are

tremendous. Much of the industry is, however, being hampered in its efforts to make the most of

these opportunities, by an uneven record in award restructuring, workplace reform and training.

If the industry is to increase its productivity there needs to be joint action by management and

employees to reform workplace cultures and work practices and a strong commitment to a

continuous process of skills formation, with Government playing a facilitative role."

Senator Button said that, as part of the activities of a new Agri-Food Council, a Memorandum of

Understanding (MOU) between unions, management and the Government would be negotiated.

The objective of the MOU would be to provide a framework within which workplace bargaining

achieves the reform required for firms to reach international competitiveness.

"Several large food companies have already developed highly effective working relationships

between management and employees. For many companies in the industry, however, the MOU

will be a very useful umbrella under which negotiations can take place" he said.

Senator Cook also supports the announcement of a new Government commitment to provide

$3.75 million as seed funding for language and literacy training in the industry over the next 4

years. This will be additional to the funding already provided to the food processing industry as

part of the Workplace English Language and Literacy (WELL) Program.

Senator Cook said "The language and literacy training is aimed at overcoming the poorly

developed functional language and literacy skills of an estimated 50 per cent o f the industry's

workforce. This is a fundamental impediment to improved productivity as these communication

skills are a pre-requisite to equipping the workforce with the technical skills associated with new

production processes." . ----- ,

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Senator Cook said some $400 000 would be available from the Workplace Reform Program to

assist with the establishment and implementation of the MOU.

The Government will also support productivity improvements through funding for a

benchmarking program aimed at establishing and disseminating information on international best

practices in key sub-sectors of the food processing industry.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT

Mr Don McKay

Office of Minister for

Industrial Relations

Mr John Lloyd

Department of Industrial Relations

Tel (06) 243 7405

Tel (06) 277 7320

Mr Alistair Scott

Office of Minister for

Industry Technology and Commerce

Tel (06) 2777580

M r Ken Pettifer

Department of Industry

Technology and Commerce

Tel (06) 276 1946; (06) 231 5318